CASH FOR QUESTIONS: SHIRLEY MANSON
The Garbage frontwoman on what Marilyn Manson smells like, what she wears to put the bins out and the power of a “mad brain”.
The Garbage singer on the nicest-smelling celebrity she’s met and making her fans cry.
Difficult second album syndrome passed Garbage by when it came to making Version 2.0. The 1998 album became just as successful as their multi-millionselling debut, making the quartet one of the biggest bands in the world. Revisiting the record for its remastered 20th- anniversary edition has brought back nothing but happy memories for frontwoman Shirley Manson. “I’m not really somebody who listens to my music once it’s done, I don’t go back,” she says, “so it was quite surreal. It was such a great record for us. I’ve got nothing but great memories of it. We were on the crest of a wave. There’s always a struggle when you’ve got four egos in a room but in general it was a pretty joyous experience.” Manson is sitting in a cosy meeting room at her publicist’s office in West London. The Edinburgh native is fun and animated company, with a filthy mouth and an infectious laugh. There have been bumps along the way for Garbage, with the band taking an extended hiatus in the mid-noughties before galvanising themselves for a second wave of success over the past few years. “I’m still alive, what a fucking miracle!” she proclaims. What better way to celebrate the continued existence of one of rock’s most captivating performers than with a public crossexamination? Let the questions begin…
What’s the biggest career mistake you’ve ever made? Felix Turner, London Allowing myself to be told by our record company to make a video that I knew would be shite, which was for 2001 single] Cherry Lips. We had an incredible pitch from British director] Dawn Shadforth who had made our Special video and she had this brilliant idea and we wanted to go with her but our American label wanted us to work with another director who made a terrible video. We had no choice. It’ll never happen again.
What’s the most trouble you got into as a youngster? Emily Gray, Worthing I was always too wily to get into trouble. But I did something awful at school, which I’m yet to forgive myself for, which is I spat on the headmaster from above, from three levels up. His name was Mr Scobie. I dropped saliva on him, I didn’t spit on him. We were doing saliva bubbles where you would drop your gob and then suck it back up, and my gob did not get sucked up in time and it dropped on the headmaster and I immediately jumped back and he looked up and he saw another, slower girl and she got the blame for it. I allowed her to take the blame and I’ll never forgive myself. She didn’t know who’d done it. I was like lightning. She was helpless and caught in a web of deceit. I convinced myself psychologically that I hadn’t done it. That’s when I realised the power of the mad brain.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen from the stage? Cam Simpson, Upminster Probably last year when we were on tour in America. It was an outside show in Chicago and there was a man on a sun-lounger fast asleep throughout the whole show until I drew attention to him and the crowd started laughing at him. He woke up for one brief second then sat up and looked around a little dazed, and then went back to sleep. I took it on the chin.
Do you feel that your original burst of fame in the ’ 90s with Garbage was tainted by two of your bandmates sporting criminal facial hair? Jim Dunne, Bangor I liked their facial hair! I thought it was cute, but I think my band are cute. Q demonstrates the landing strip-style goatee that guitarist Duke Erikson sported and asks if she really thought it was cute] Hahahaarghhh! I liked it! The thing that people forget is that you just do the best you can when you emerge into the spotlight. There’s the odd person who’s just cool as fuck, and there’s hardly any of them. Most of us are just normal people who get thrust into the spotlight and you do the best you can to catch up. What I’m saying is, don’t fuck with my boys!
Who’s the nicest smelling celebrity you’ve ever met? Vicky Rayner, Derby I haven’t registered body odour to be honest, usually I’m either too excited or engaged in the experience to notice what they smell like. Marilyn Manson smells really good. He’s delicious. He sort of smells like my very first boyfriend. He smells of, like, good hair products. He’s really smart, really funny, really sweet. He’s clean.
Do you take your own bins out? Tim Howell, York Fuck yeah! I’m a maniac about bins. I’m a maniac about recycling, I’m a neat freak, mild obsessive compulsive. I have to be covered to put the bins out. My genitals need to be covered, and my tits. And I need to have something on my feet. But I have been out there in all states of dress, some magnificent, and some really frightening and depressing looks. Sometimes I’ll be doing it after a photo shoot or something and I’ve got my hair completely done, with make-up and nails and lovely clothes, and other times you’re skirting in and out hoping nobody sees you.
You are a world famous, well-travelled rock star. What is the first thing that people around the globe think about Scottish people? Gemma Lowe, Aberdeen The Loch Ness Monster. Glasgow venue] Barrowlands comes up a lot, much to my pride and joy. The more I go all over the world, the more I realise how special Barrowlands is. There are certain spaces that are magic and that’s one of them. It’s so peculiar, you don’t think that it’ll ever come up in conversation but it’s almost always the first thing out of musicians’ mouths.
Have you ever made one of your own fans cry? Sam Hudson, Carlisle Yes, I think I have. I’m always telling people to fuck off. See, here’s my thing: if you know somebody’s a tiger, don’t put your hand in the tiger’s cage. It’s a given. Now, I am known for having a bit of a temper. I’m known for being a little quick to the rise, so don’t be surprised when you get a response when you write something cheeky. I get a lot of cheek and then I will respond in kind and then it’s, “How could you talk to one of your fans like that?” “Well, did you note what you just said to me, mate?” So, yes, I think I’ve made a few of them cry. Sometimes I take great pleasure in it, I have to say, because it’s good sport – words are interesting and fun and I enjoy it.
Have you ever been told off by someone famous? Natasha Forster, Bristol
I haven’t been told off per se, but I’ve been given some advice, shall we say, from Peaches. What she said is between me and her but she knows my number, she reads me in a funny way that I’ve never really encountered before. I know that she completely gets me and completely gets my weird psyche. It was something I was talking about and with a little twinkle in her eye sort of threw it back at me and I knew she knew all my deepest, darkest secrets.
Do you still have the orange jacket that looks like the Version 2.0 cover? @shellsenseless, via Twitter As a matter of fact, I do, and it’s about to go on display at the National Museum Of Scotland as they’re about to launch an exhibition on Scottish music and I was approached to donate some items to it. What else have I put in there? You’ll have to go to find out!
Who’s the hardest person you know? Liam Barwell, Melton Mowbray I would probably say the head of The Pablove Foundation in America, who’s a friend of mine, her name’s Jo Ann and she is the hardest person I know. She lost a child and managed to hold herself together enough to build a foundation in his name. She runs
“Marilyn Manson smells really good. He’s delicious. He smells of, like, good hair products.”
it and she’s managed to reconnect with life and find some joy in it and that to me is hard. Hard as nails. She’s amazing. Taking another crack at living is badass.
Out of your rock star friends, who is the most misunderstood? Karl Johnson, Cardiff Courtney Love. Not so much now, because people have developed an affection for her, understanding what a rare beast she is. But I think she was grossly misunderstood for a long time and I’m happy to see she’s been taken to the bosom again and people seem to have a lot of love for her now. She’s a misunderstood genius. You’ve dyed your hair a lot. Do you ever worry about hair loss? Katy Butterfield, Dover No, I have the most ridiculous amount of hair ever. I have so much hair. Strong hair. I want to change it every day. I’m currently fighting the desire to shave the whole fucking thing off and my husband is literally on his knees every night going, “Please don’t, please don’t shave it off!” I’m like, “Can you charge your clippers?” and he’s like, “Please don’t, I’m begging you!” I’m just sick of it, it bores the shit out of me. It’s a tedious bore, hahahaha! What’s the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you? Jason Laughton, Glasgow This doesn’t sound too bad now, but when I was young it was the worst thing anyone could ever say to me, which was, “What colour is your pubic hair?” Every time somebody said that to me, I thought I was gonna die of shame. It took me a long time to get over it. Maybe 15 years of sexual activity. Truly, I remember that horrible, burning, sinking feeling. But now I think it’s glorious.
What’s been the hardest moment in the band? Lucas Bruce, Edinburgh Failure. When we got dropped by our record labels, both in the UK and America, and I think we all felt defeated and didn’t really think we’d be talented enough to rebuild ourselves. We felt hopeless, like, “Wow, this is the end of the ride, OK.” We weren’t really speaking to one another and I think we all blamed each other for what we perceived as failure.
What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever put in your mouth? Thea Power, Hull Sheep’s brains, in Istanbul. It tasted just like pâté. It was pretty extreme. I ate it as a kind of dare. Yes, I swallowed. Of course I did.
What’s the trait you most deplore in other people? Craig Upshaw, Newcastle Upon Tyne Dishonesty. I can tolerate flaws in people but I can’t tolerate lies. People who are fake and portray themselves as one thing but actually are another, all that shit, I really can’t stand it.
In the TV series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you kissed Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris to death. How was it? Pam Greenwood, Aberystwth It was really nice, I love him! He was so sweet with me. I was a novice and of course he is this incredible actor and I was very nervous and embarrassed. I was way out of my depth and it was very late at night on the Warner Bros lot in Hollywood and I remember just wanting to go home. It was something like three in the morning and he was so cool. It was nice!
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Scissor sister: (left) as Catherine Weaver in Terminator: TSCC; (right) the “funny” and “clean” Marilyn Manson (no relation).
Internationally renowned Scot, Nessie The Loch Ness Monster.
“I liked their facial hair!” Manson with Garbage bandmates (from left, Steve Marker, Butch Vig, 1998. Duke Erikson) in
Garbage’s Shirley Manson answers your questions (p26).
Clipper conspiracy: Shirley is fighting a desire to shave off all her hair.
“Quick to the rise” Shirley Manson fends off the Q readers’ queries; (below) the jacketinspiring cover of 1998’ s Version 2.0